Bell Sounds from the 20th - Voter Registration Deadline is Quickly Approaching!

Believe it or not, the November election is just over one month away.  This is a crucial election, as many believe that the majority in the United States Senate is in play.  It is imperative that you get out on November 4th and let your voice be heard.  In order to do that, however, you must make sure that your voter registration is current. If you have never registered, or if you have moved since the last election, you will need to register by Tuesday, October 14 in order to vote in November.

You can register to vote at your local registrar’s office or online at the Virginia Department of Elections website at  You can also go there to verify your current registration status.

To complete the application process online, eligible citizens must provide their Virginia DMV customer identifier number, displayed on DMV issued identification cards or driver’s licenses.  Citizens who do not have a Virginia DMV customer identifier may still fill out the registration application online, but will be required to print and return the completed application to the appropriate local voter registration office. 

DMV customers may apply to register to vote at any of the 75 Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) customer service centers, five mobile offices, or 55 DMV Select locations throughout the state. For information on DMV locations, hours and schedules, visit

I would encourage you to check your registration status before the October 14 deadline.  If you would like to check your registration status or find out where you vote, you can do so online at, call 1-800-552-9745, or contact your local voter registrar.

Citizens are not registered to vote until a paper or online voter registration application is completed, signed, and approved by your local registrar. Once an application is approved, a voter registration card will be mailed to you from your local registrar's office.

To be eligible to register to vote in Virginia, you must:

  • be a resident of Virginia

  • be a U.S. citizen

  • be 18 years old (Any person who is 17 years old and will be 18 years old by November 4 may register)

  • not be registered and/or plan to vote in any other state

  • not currently be declared mentally incompetent by a court of law

  • have had your right to vote restored, if convicted of a felony

Virginia law now requires all voters to provide an acceptable form of photo identification when voting in person at their polling place. For a list of acceptable forms of photo identification, visit 

If you are going to be away on Election Day and would like to vote absentee, please go to  Citizens who qualify to vote absentee are also able to vote in person at their local registrar’s office. The last day to vote in person absentee is November 1.  The last day that an absentee ballot can be mailed to you is October 28.  If you have questions about the absentee ballot process, your eligibility to vote absentee, or hours for in person absentee voting, I encourage you to contact your local registrar. 

If you have any other questions about the voter registration process, or other general questions about the upcoming election, please do not hesitate to contact us.  If we can’t answer your question we are happy to help direct you to someone who can.  You can reach me by email at, or by phone at 540-448-3999.

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Bell Sounds from the 20th - September 5, 2014

 I hope everyone had a wonderful Labor Day! With Labor Day comes the official kickoff of the 2014 Campaign Season. I’d like to give you a couple of quick updates of happenings in the Valley and across the Commonwealth.

Join Delegate Bell for an Evening of Barbecue and Bluegrass

With Invited Guests:

Bob Goodlatte, Congressman

Senator Mark Obenshain

Delegates Ben Cline, Steve Landes, and Tony Wilt

Thursday, October 2, 2014

6:00 -8:00 pm

Shenandoah Harley Davidson

213 Rolling Thunder Lane

Staunton, Virginia 24401

Please RSVP by September 23 to 540-448-4617 or by email at

Yes, I will attend the annual Bell’s Bluegrass and Barbecue at the following level:

____$1000 Platinum Level

____$500 Gold Level        ____$250 Silver Level

____$100 Bronze Level

____$25 per person to attend (no Press passes)

Yes, I support Delegate Bell. However, I cannot attend the event but please accept my generous donation of $          to show my support!

Please make checks payable to “BELL FOR DELEGATE”

2620 Eston Drive Staunton, VA 24401

NAME(S) ____________________________________________________

Company Name




 Political Contributions are not tax-deductible. Paid for by Bell for Delegate. Corporate Contributions are accepted. State law requires employer and occupation information for contributions over $100 in a calendar year.

Staunton/Augusta GOP Headquarters Opening

It’s that time of year again! Our Republican Headquarters will officially open on Saturday, September 6.  There will be a grand opening on Saturday at 10:00 am.

The headquarters will be located at Old Colony Construction, on the corner of Statler Blvd and Richmond Ave, at 700 Richmond Avenue in Staunton. This is the same location as last year.

I’d encourage you all to stop by and pick up your yard signs and bumper stickers and show your support for Congressman Goodlatte and our Senate candidate, Ed Gillespie.

I know that the two committees will be looking for volunteers to help staff the headquarters this year as well. If you are interested in volunteering, please contact us and we will be sure to get you in touch with the right person!

Register to Vote

If you are not yet registered to vote or if you have moved since the last election you must be registered by October 14 in order to vote in the November 4 election.

You can register or update your registration online at

You can also register by mail by completing this form and mailing it to your local registrar’s office.

If you have questions about voter registration in Virginia please contact your local registrar.


I always enjoy hearing from many of you regarding the issues that matter most to you. You can reach us by email at, or by phone at 540-448-3999.

You can also reach us by mail at Post Office Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your delegate.

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Bell Sounds from the 20th - July 22, 2014

I hope you are all having a wonderful summer. I’ve enjoyed seeing many of you out at various lawn parties and other celebrations!   

I just want to take a few minutes to share a couple of updates with you.

Valley Business Summit at Blue Ridge Community College

Last year several area legislators along with local business and economic development organizations hosted a business summit at Blue Ridge Community College to help entrepreneurs learn about various resources and strategies for starting and growing their business.

Due to the great success of the event last year, Delegates Ben Cline, Steve Landes, and Tony Wilt have decided to host it again this year on Monday, August 4. Though the event is free and open to the public, an RSVP is required.

The format for this year’s event will remain largely the same.  We will again have a feedback forum at the conclusion of the event for the state legislators to hear your suggestions and concerns related to the business climate in the Commonwealth.  

The Business Summit will begin with registration from 7:30 am to 8:00 am and is set to conclude around noon. Again, it's free to attend, but an RSVP is requested by July 28. Click here to learn more about the event and to RSVP

Please feel free to share the information regarding the Valley Business Summit to anyone you feel might be interested.

Session Summary

On July 1, the majority of legislation that passed into law during the 2014 General Assembly Session went into effect.

Each year the Division of Legislative Services issues a publication that outlines the legislation that will likely have an impact on the lives of most citizens. You can click here to view that document.  

Please understand that this is by no means a complete list of bills that passed into law during the 2014 session.  For more information about legislation from the 2014 Session, please visit You can also contact our office if you have any questions.

Medicaid Update

As you will undoubtedly recall, Medicaid Expansion was one of the most pressing issues of the 2014 Legislative Session.  Throughout the Session and Special Session, my colleagues and I continually advocated that Medicaid expansion be separated from the budget and considered on its own merit. 

We passed a budget in June that did not include expansion.  In keeping with our promises to give Medicaid expansion full consideration outside of the budgetary process, Speaker Howell announced recently that we will be returning to Richmond in September to continue the Medicaid debate.

While I continue to have significant concerns with expanding the program, I believe that given the number of people potentially affected by this decision, it is important that we continue this debate. I look forward to returning to Richmond to fully consider any and all proposals. I will be sure to keep you updated as more details become available.  


I always enjoy hearing from many of you regarding the issues that matter most to you. You can reach us by email at, or by phone at 540-448-3999.

You can also reach us by mail at Post Office Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your delegate.

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Bell Sounds from the 20th - Important Campaign Finance Deadline at Midnight Tonight!

We may have been successful in stopping the Governor's push for Medicaid expansion in Virginia, but that has not come without costs.

Prior to the Medicaid debate, Governor McAuliffe expressed his desire to put up and support as many Democrats as possible to beat incumbent Republican House members.  Given what has transpired over the last few weeks with the budget, he is undoubtedly more committed to that goal than ever before.

There is an important campaign finance deadline approaching tonight at midnight, and it is important that we make a strong showing.  This will indicate to my opponents that I have a broad base of support. Though I am not up for re-election this year, we know that Terry McAuliffe and his allies have deep pockets, and they will use them to back our opponents.  Therefore it is critical that we jump start our fundraising.  For this, I need your help.  

Can you contribute $25, $50, $100, or even $500 by midnight tonight to support my campaign?  A donation in any amount that you can afford is useful to my campaign.

It has already taken significant resources this year to effectively convey my position in the Medicaid expansion debate. Given that Governor McAuliffe has indicated his willingness circumvent the General Assembly and pursue expansion unilaterally, I imagine that we will have to continue to spend our resources in this fight.

You can securely contribute online at

You can also mail your contribution to P.O. Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.

Thank you for your generous and continued support.

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Bell Sounds from the 20th - June 24, 2014

The Commonwealth finally has a budget in place!  As most of you are already aware,  last Thursday, June 12,  the General Assembly passed a structurally sound and fiscally responsible budget that did not include Medicaid Expansion.  Governor McAuliffe had 7 days from the time the bill was communicated to him to act on the legislation.

Over the weekend, Governor McAuliffe signed the budget, but issued eight line-item vetoes.  He also announced his plan to circumvent the General Assembly and pursue Medicaid Expansion unilaterally.

Yesterday evening the General Assembly returned to Richmond to take up the Governor’s vetoes.  The House of Delegates did not take up five of his vetoes and overrode one.  The Speaker of the House ruled that two vetoes were out of order.  

The budget passed by the General Assembly last week contained language that unequivocally states that the Governor does not have the authority to expand Medicaid unilaterally.  Item 301, Section TTT, Paragraph 9 states “That notwithstandinding any other provision of this act, or any other law, no general or nongeneral funds shall be appropriated or pended for such costs as may be incurred to implement [Medicaid Expansion].”  Governor McAuliffe attempted to veto this language.    

Governor McAuliffe also attempted to veto funding for judges and the conditions attached to it.  This action could potentially delay the administration of justice in the Commonwealth.  There is already a desperate need in Virginia for additional judgeships, and this action, if upheld, could cause increased delays in our justice system.

The ability of the Governor to line-item veto is limited by our state constitution and prior rulings of the State Supreme Court.  Speaker Bill Howell ruled that the vetoes of the judgeship funding and of the Medicaid language were out of order.  He based his ruling on rulings by previous Speakers, as well as rulings held by the Supreme Court of Virginia.  The Supreme Court has previously handed down rulings that outline various restrictions on the Governor’s line-item veto authority.

With each of these two vetoes, Governor McAuliffe attempted to veto a specific provision within a broader item.  Based on past rulings, he does not have this authority without vetoing the entire item.    Because the Speaker ruled these items to be out of order,the vetoes are essentially dead. They will not be enrolled in the final version of the bill.

I know that Speaker Howell takes very seriously this responsibility to make these rulings on the rules and process of the House.  I believe that his ruling is correct.  For more information on the Speaker’s ruling, you can read his statement online here.

The House of Delegates also overturned one of the Governor’s vetoes.  He eliminated the funding and support for the newly created Virginia Conflict of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council.  This Council was a significant component of the comprehensive ethics reform package that we passed in the 2014 Regular Session.  Despite signing the ethics package into law, the Governor eliminated the funding mechanism with this veto.  This simply did not make sense to many of us in the House.  The Senate, however, did not obtain enough votes to override the veto, and therefore it was sustained.

The House did not act on, and therefore sustained, five of the Governor’s vetoes.  The following vetoes were not taken up by the House:

  • language that would allow Chesterfield County to help run Petersburg City Schools. (Item 36.A.19)
  • language that related to the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission. (Item 301 TTT 6a and part of 7a)
  • language regarding a technical reversion of money from the Federal Action Contingency Fund to the General Fund. (Item 468.G.1.c)
  • language that sets up a process for spending Virginia’s portion of assets forfeiture suits.  (Item 4-2.02d)
  • language requiring the Executive Branch to present more detailed reports to the General Assembly during the budget process. (Item 4-8.02b)
I still believe that despite the safeguards we have taken in the budget, that the Governor likely intends to circumvent the legislature and pursue the expansion of Medicaid.  This is deeply concerning to me, as i know it is to the many of you who deeply respect and support our representative government.  We must not allow him to set this dangerous precedent. The separation of powers among the three branches of government establishes a balance of power and is the framework for our form of government.  We must protect the integrity of those principles. 


Rest assured that I stand ready to join with my colleagues in the House of Delegates to challenge any and all actions by the Governor to expand Medicaid without the express approval of the legislature, as required by Virginia’s Constitution.

Though I am disappointed that it took us this long,  I am pleased that we have avoided a government shutdown, which would have been disastrous for Virginia.  


I always enjoy hearing from many of you regarding the issues that matter most to you. You can reach us by email at, or by phone at 540-448-3999. You can also reach us by mail at Post Office Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your delegate.
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Bell Sounds from the 20th - Budget Bill Passes in the General Assembly

It appears that the three month budget stalemate has come to an end.   Late last night the State Senate and House of Delegates came together to put the people of Virginia ahead of politics. We passed a responsible, fiscally sound, and conservative budget that addresses our state’s $1.5 billion revenue shortfall while protecting our key investments in K-12, mental health, and the Virginia Retirement System.  This budget does not include Medicaid Expansion.

Earlier this week, negotiations surrounding the budget took a shocking turn.  The unexpected resignation of Democratic Senator Phillip Puckett allowed Republicans to regain the majority in the Virginia Senate.  Joined by one of their Democratic colleagues, all twenty Republicans immediately called the Senate back into session.

The House and Senate returned to Richmond yesterday to finish work on the biennial budget.  The Senate passed House Bill 5002 on a vote of 21-19, and the House passed a budget with a vote of 69-31. 

This budget tackles the $1.5 billion shortfall for the next biennium by eliminating spending increases compared to the original budget, and tapping into the state’s rainy day fund. 

Though I wish that we didn’t have to use the rainy day fund, we had little choice given the revenue numbers and our looming deadline.  Revenues were down by $394 million (almost 20 percent) in May.  We expect revenues to be down by about $550 million each of the next two years.  While we obviously won’t know the final numbers until July, we have built a budget that anticipates a big shortfall.

Like families in Virginia, we simply can’t spend money that we don’t have.  For this reason, we unfortunately had to eliminate most new spending increases.  This includes teacher and state employee pay raises, new higher education funding, new economic development funding, and new hospital and nursing home funding. 

We were, however, able to protect over $300 million in new classroom funding for K-12 education, about $50 million in new funding for mental health reforms and investments in our state employee retirement system.

For a more detailed look at what the budget does and does not include, I encourage you to view a presentation by House Appropriations Committee staff that outlines the changes.

The budget passed last night does not include the expansion of Medicaid.  In fact, it specifically includes language added by Senator Bill Stanley that states that the Governor cannot expand without the approval of the legislature. 

Though the original budget language did not expressly allow the Governor to expand Medicaid without the approval of the Medicaid Innovation and Reform Commission, there was concern among many that Governor McAuliffe may try to do so.  Therefore, the General Assembly has added an additional, clarifying section that unequivocally prohibits the expansion of Medicaid without the approval of the legislature.   

I strongly encourage Governor McAuliffe to sign the budget without substantial amendments and without inserting Medicaid expansion.  Virginia needs a budget now. If he includes Medicaid expansion, the House will reject that amendment, causing even further delays in adopting the budget.

Once the budget is signed, we can and should return to Richmond to debate Medicaid expansion on its own merit.

I have continually expressed my concerns about Medicaid expansion, and I still believe that Virginia cannot afford the long-term costs and we cannot trust the federal government to pay for Medicaid expansion forever.  I am, however, more than willing to have a full and fair debate on this issue. The Governor and General Assembly members can make any proposal they want and I will debate it and consider it on its own merit.

Throughout the past three months, elected officials from many of Virginia’s localities have repeatedly called on the General Assembly and the Governor to pass a timely budget. As the deadline approached, localities and the Commonwealth became increasingly concerned about the possibility of losing our AAA bond rating.  Although Senator Puckett's sudden resignation allowed for the restart of negotiations, a number of factors were already beginning to indicate impending action.

While I am disappointed that it took us 96 days to get here, I am pleased that we are one step closer to avoiding a Government shutdown.  I hope that the Governor will act quickly on the budget, so that our localities, school divisions, and state agencies can gain the certainty that they need to complete their own budgets.


I always enjoy hearing from many of you regarding the issues that matter most to you. You can reach us by email at, or by phone at 540-448-3999.

You can also reach us by mail at Post Office Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.

Thank you for allowing me to serve as your delegate.


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Bell Sounds from the 20th - June 6, 2014

I hope you are enjoying the start of summer!

 I wish that I had more to report on the progress of the budget, but unfortunately no movement has been made since my last update.  There are some promising signs that the conferees could be ready to restart negotiations, and I remain hopeful that we will be able to reach some sort of agreement and pass a budget prior to the June 30th deadline. 

 Unfortunately it appears that we may not be able to return to Richmond until late June, as Democratic leadership in the Senate has indicated that they are unwilling to move forward until one of their members returns to the country from a vacation.

I will do my best do keep you updated on the progress of the budget as we approach the deadline. In the meantime, I would like to provide you with some updates on things that have been going on here in the district.

Legislative Branch Savings

Despite the dire revenue numbers we heard previously this month, we did have some positive news come out of Richmond this week.  On Thursday, Speaker of the House of Delegates William J. Howell announced $7,356,129 in legislative branch savings that will be returned to the general fund at the end of FY 2014.  This includes $3.7 million in savings from legislative branch agencies and over $3.5 million in savings from legislative commissions and councils.

I believe that these savings are a testament to the fiscally conservative and responsible approach to governing that we have worked so hard to achieve.  At a time of continued economic uncertainty, Virginia’s taxpayers are right to expect their government to live within its means.

These savings are especially critical given the potential budget shortfall for the fiscal year.  I am grateful that our agency heads and legislative branch employees have worked so hard to be good stewards of our limited resources over the last few years. This has lead to over $19 million in savings since 2010. 

For a detailed list of agency savings, please click here.

 Golden Apple Award

I am pleased to announce that just yesterday I was presented with the Golden Apple Award from at their end of year celebration.  

The Golden Apple Award is awarded to legislators who promote school choice. This is such an honor, and I am so grateful and humbled to receive this award.  I have made school choice, and specifically virtual education, a top priority throughout my time in the House of Delegates, and I will continue to do so as long as I have the privilege to serve.

 Woodmen of the World Community Partnership Award

 Additionally, I was honored to receive the Community Partnership Award from our local Woodmen of the World.  This award is given annually to someone that they feel has made a significant contribution to their community.  This is truly an honor and I would like to thank the Woodmen of the World for this recognition.

2014 Outstanding Academic Achievers

This time of year, it is common for us to see a number of high school students who are recognized and honored for their academic and extracurricular accomplishments.

On May 13, I was pleased to attend a reception hosted by the Greater Augusta Chamber of Commerce honoring Staunton, Augusta and Waynesboro’s 2014 Outstanding Academic Achievers.  These students are the best of the best in the class of 2014, and I am excited to see how they will excel in the future.

This year, we were involved a bit more in the Academic Achievers program than I have been in previous years.  My office was pleased to sponsor a $1,000 scholarship, which was awarded to Mary Desmond, a senior at Riverheads.  Mary plans to attend a university in Virginia where she will study broadcast journalism.  I hope that the scholarship will be useful to her as she continues her academic pursuits.

The other Outstanding Academic Achievers of the class of 2014 were:

 Buffalo Gap High School

Dakota Moneymaker     Maryanna Turnage     Mercedes Moore


Fishburne Military School

Edwin Lopez


Fort Defiance High School

Charles Good     Caleb Baxter     Rebekah Flick


Ridgeview Christian School

Holly Lyons


Riverheads High School

Mary Desmond     Casey Dawn Gailey     Rebecca Lynn Hite


Robert E. Lee High School

Robert Rizzo     Natalie Cascario     Martha Sheridan


Stuarts Draft High School

Elena Miller     Kimberly Daw     Alexandra Steege


Stuart Hall

Shiyao Sun     Elijah Rinaldi     Anatolia Ebru Hodson


Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind

Hannah Nicole Mills     Scarlet Racey


Waynesboro High School

Zachary Pereles     Ryley Stevens     Andrew Bihl

Wilson Memorial High School

Phillip Seaton     Andrew Christian White     Miles Harnad


Congratulations to these Academic Achievers, and to the Class of 2014!

 Rotary Code of Ethics

On the afternoon of May 27, I was also pleased to attend the 2014 Rotary Code of Ethics luncheon sponsored by the Staunton Rotary Club. 

 Each year, the Staunton Rotary honors students from each local high school that have demonstrated strong individual values and ethics.  These students are great role models for their peers, and I would like to congratulate each of them. 

The Code of Ethics Award recipients are:


Buffalo Gap High School

Maryanna Turnage     Cole Young


Fishburne Military School

Sutton Jones


Fort Defiance High School

Brock Barnes     Andrea Wright


Grace Christian School

Justin Bowles     Jessica Law


Highland High School

Paige Fisher     Robert Moyers


Ridgeview Christian School

William Campbell     Kirsten Dolack


Riverheads High School

John Bussard     Elizabeth Milo


Robert E. Lee High School

David Eiker     Olivia Pyanoe


Stuarts Draft High School

Lilley Fitzgerald     Drew Gibbons


Stuart Hall

Elijah Rinaldi     Anatolia Hodson


Virginia School for the Deaf and Blind

Tyler Gumm     Hannah Mills


Waynesboro High School

Zachary Allen     Janitha Bellamy


Wilson Memorial High School

Robert Fern     Whitney Harris


Upcoming Events

 As summer approaches, so do the various lawn parties, fairs, and other celebrations that come with it. Here is a list of the events in our district. I hope to see you out at many of these events!

 July 3-4

America’s Birthday Celebration at Gypsy Hill Park

July 9-12

Churchville Lawn Party

Stuarts Draft Lawn Party

July 12

Waynesboro Extravaganza


August 5-9

Augusta County Fair

 August 30 – September 6

Highland County Fair


Though there’s no election for the House of Delegates this year, the need for money is still very real.  We must spread our positive message of small government, fiscal responsibility, and valley values across Virginia. I use campaign funds for mailings and other materials that help keep voters in the 20th District informed on the happenings in Richmond.  For this, I need your help.  You can donate at, or by mailing a check to Post Office Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.   


 I always enjoy hearing from many of you regarding the issues that matter most to you. You can reach us by email at,

or by phone at 540-448-3999.

 You can also reach us by mail at Post Office Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.

  Thank you for allowing me to serve as your delegate.



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Bell Sounds from the 20th - May 2

Let me first thank all of you who came out to American’s for Prosperity’s Town Hall meeting on Monday night.  For those of you who were not in attendance I encourage you to check out some of the news coverage of the event. 

Dickie Bell: Majority oppose expansion of Medicaid – Augusta Free Press

Bell steps into lion’s den on Medicaid expansion – The News Virginian

Town Hall Meeting Centers on Medicaid Expansion – NBC 29

Medicaid Expansion and the State Budget

Unfortunately since our last newsletter there is no progress to report on the state budget.  Governor McAuliffe and members of the State Senate still will not agree to any budget that does not include Medicaid Expansion. 

 Christopher Newport University released a poll last week that decisively shows that Virginians oppose Medicaid expansion and don’t want to see a government shutdown in the Commonwealth.

According to the poll, voters oppose Medicaid expansion 53% to 41%. Even in the more liberal-leaning Northern Virginia support for expansion is only 49%.   Independents oppose expansion 55% to 35%. 

 More importantly, the poll shows that Virginians overwhelmingly oppose Governor McAuliffe’s effort to hold the state budget hostage over this issue.  71% of Virginians want to see a compromise that avoids a shutdown –this means passing a clean budget without Medicaid expansion.

These are good results for us, but we can’t back off now.  Click here to sign the petition and tell Governor McAuliffe it’s time to compromise and pass a clean budget to keep the state government open. 

 Reconvened Session

 The General Assembly reconvened last Wednesday to consider the Governor's vetoes and amendments to legislation. Governor McAuliffe offered amendments to 57 bills and vetoed five.  While some of his amendments were technical in nature and made improvements to the existing legislation, I did disagree with him on a number of other amendments and all of his vetoes. 

While some of the Governor's amendments and vetoes seemed to be a genuine disagreement on policy, others appeared to be retribution against legislators that have been vocal opponents of the Governor’s efforts to expand Medicaid.

 Overall, the House rejected the Governor's recommendations on 16 bills, while the Senate rejected his recommendations on five bills. All of his vetoes were upheld due to insufficient support in the Senate to override them (It takes a 2/3 vote in both chambers to override a veto).

There were three bills that were amended or vetoed for which I received significant feedback from my constituents.  These were Senate Bill 377, Senate Bill 236, and Senate Bill 555. 

 Senate Bill 377 was initially written to allow gun dealers seeking to purchase, trade or transfer a firearm from a non-dealer individual to submit information on that firearm to law enforcement to determine if it has been reported lost or stolen. Included in this process is a consent form which must contain all identification taken in writing from the person selling, trading or transferring the firearm to the dealer as well as the firearm information. The original legislation stipulated that, should the firearm be determined to not have been reported lost or stolen, the dealer is required to destroy the consent form within two weeks.

The Governor's amendment required that the form be retained for at least 90 days, and did not stipulate that it ever had to be destroyed. Our fear was that this amendment could amount to a back-door way to go about creating a gun and gun-owner registry. Thankfully, the Senate rejected this amendment and therefore the House was not required to take up the vote. If I would’ve had the opportunity to vote, I would have voted against this amendment.

Senate Bill 236 and Senate Bill 555 are both bills related to religious liberties. SB 236 codified the right of students in public schools to pray, engage in religious activities or other forms of expression and to organize prayer groups, gatherings and religious clubs to the same extent that students may engage in nonreligious activities.  SB 555 prohibits censorship by state government officials or agencies of the religious content of sermons made by chaplains of the Virginia National Guard

The Governor vetoed these bills, and unfortunately the Senate did not achieve the votes necessary to override the veto.  I supported this legislation in the regular General Assembly session, and would have happily voted to override the veto if I had had the opportunity to do so.


 I am honored to report that over the last couple of weeks I have received three appointments from Speaker Bill Howell. 

The first was an appointment to the Southern Regional Education Board Legislative Work Conference, to be held in Louisville, Kentucky on June 21-24.

 The Southern Regional Education Board (SREB) is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization that works with 16 member states to improve public pre-K-12 and higher education.  At this conference legislators from the member states to discuss education policy. 

I was privileged to attend the SREB Work Conference in 2010 and 2013, and I am looking forward to having this experience again in 2014.

 Additionally, I was appointed to two boards.  I’ve been appointed to the Center for Rural Virginia Board of Trustees, as well as the Virginia Commission on Youth.   

The Center for Rural Virginia was established in the Code of Virginia as an independent nonprofit local entity without political subdivision status, for the purpose of sustaining economic growth in the rural areas of the Commonwealth and lessening the burdens of government.

 The Commission on Youth is directed by the Code of Virginia to study and provide recommendations addressing the needs of and services to the Commonwealth’s youth and families.

 I am thankful to Speaker Howell for providing me with these opportunities that will allow me to better represent the 20th District.


Though the House of Delegates is continuing to hold the line against the expansion of Medicaid in Virginia, the fight is far from over.  We will continue to have to use our resources to help get our message out.  For this, I will need your help.  A donation in any amount will help us continue this fight.  You can donate by clicking here, or by mailing a check to Post Office Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.   


 I always enjoy hearing from many of you regarding the issues that matter most to you. You can reach us by email at, or by phone at 540-448-3999.

You can also reach us by mail at Post Office Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.

 Thank you for allowing me to serve as your delegate.

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Join Delegate Bell for a "Dutch Treat" Lunch Meeting on Saturday, March 22!

As most of you are aware by now, last Saturday, March 8 the 2014 General Assembly Session adjourned Sine Die.  Unfortunately, however, we did so without a budget.  The Governor has called for a Special Session on March 24 to allow us to continue our budget discussion. 

 My hope is that the conferees will be able to reach some sort of agreement by that point. Our localities, school divisions, and other agencies that require state funds need for the General Assembly to act on a budget now so that they can move forward with setting their own budgets. 

Prior to the Special Session, I would love to hear from you.  I will be hosting a “Dutch-Treat” Lunch Meeting at 12:00 noon on Saturday, March 22 at Mrs. Rowe’s in Staunton.

Due to space constraints, an RSVP is required.  Please RSVP to Savanna at by Wednesday March 19

Budget Petition

Whatever your views on Medicaid Expansion, there is no question that Virginians need a budget now.  If we remove Medicaid Expansion from the budget, the Governor still has the authority to call a Special Session for Medicaid further down the road.  It is wrong to hold hostage our teachers, public safety personnel, state employees, and localities due to disagreement on one issue. 

If you agree with me that Virginia should pass a clean budget, please let Governor McAuliffe know.  You can do so by signing this petition.  

Contact Us

This is a reminder that we are now once again operating out of our district office.  You can reach us by phone at 540-448-3999.

Throughout the interim, please be aware that our Richmond office is closed.  Though we try to routinely monitor the voicemails in our Richmond office, we ask that for the quickest response that you please call our district phone number.  

You can also continue to reach us by email at, and by mail at Post Office Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your delegate.

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Bell Sounds from the 20th - Week 9

The General Assembly is set to adjourn tomorrow, but it unfortunately looks like we will do so without finishing the state budget.


As I’ve mentioned in previous emails, on February 20th we passed the 2014-2016 House budget with a bipartisan vote of 74-25. This budget takes a “savings first” approach and provides funding for many critical areas to include $48 million for mental health services; $530.9 million for public education; $210 million to higher education; and includes millions to fully fund our Virginia Retirement System (VRS) obligations by 2016, three years earlier than required.


At this time the House and Senate budget proposals are very close. The bottom lines are separated by one-tenth of one percent, a difference that could be easily closed if Senate budget conferees would come to the table to seriously negotiate.


Unfortunately, however, our conferees have consistently encountered a slow, unresponsive attitude from Senate Democrats.  At this critical time Governor McAuliffe has traveled around Virginia grandstanding for one political issue rather than work with us to negotiate the differences in the budget.


By failing to pass a budget, we are ignoring the fact that numerous entities around the state need Virginia’s budget passed long before July 1, the deadline before a potential government shutdown.  Local governments, state agencies, our colleges and universities, school boards, and many businesses that contract with the state look to the state budget for guidance as they prepare their budgets for the upcoming fiscal year.  They cannot wait until July. They need to know now how much they can count on from the state in order to set their own budgets.  


Without a budget College Boards of Visitors, who depend on the state budget as they work this spring to set tuition rates for the next year, will be forced to prepare for a worst case scenario. This could result in double digit tuition increases that our students and families cannot afford.


Our local school divisions will be forced to rethink teacher position openings, renewed contracts, new school supplies, employee healthcare plans, and expanded extracurricular activities if they don’t have a State budget to work from.  


Local governments are relying on state funding for road maintenance, payments to VRS, and new Department of Environmental Quality requirements.


Every day that we delay, we are causing more uncertainty for these and many other citizens that are depending on the state to pass a budget well before the July 1 deadline.   


House Republican Leadership has called for a special session after we pass the budget to debate the issues of Medicaid expansion on its merits. This will ensure funding for our teachers, schools, firefighters, police officers and local governments are not used as leverage to implement Medicaid expansion.


The Senate Medicaid expansion proposal is language only.  It has no impact on our state budget, appropriates no funds, and generates no budget savings.  Therefore it could easily be separated from the budget, and the Governor has the authority to call a special session to ensure that we act on it.  


This is an issue that many Virginians have strong feelings about on both sides.  Though I do not support Medicaid expansion, I recognize that a number of Virginians, including Governor McAuliffe, do.  For that reason I believe it is important that we continue this debate.  I do not think we should do so, however, at the expense of those citizens who desperately need us to pass a clean budget now.     


There is historical precedent for this.  On numerous occasions in the past we have removed key issues from the budget to be dealt with during a special session to avoid a budget impasse.  Governor George Allen called a special session in 1994 on parole reform. Governor Jim Gilmore called a special session in 1998 on car-tax relief. Governor Tim Kaine called a special session in 2006 on transportation.  


A special session would have several benefits. The most obvious benefit would be that postponing the Medicaid debate to a special session would allow us to avoid a shutdown and finish budget negotiations on proposals that are currently already 99.9% in agreement.  It would also allow legislators time to go home and talk to constituents about this critical issue.  Finally, it would allow those in favor of Medicaid expansion to craft meaningful legislation that can stand alone and be considered on its merits.


Virginia is 1 of 12 states with an AAA bond rating from all three rating agencies. Last year we were named the best state for doing business by Forbes magazine. We did not earn these accolades by using our budget as a political tool.


The Virginia Chamber of Commerce released a statement this week that supports the House Republican call for a special session. They cited the serious implications budget uncertainty could have for the Commonwealth’s business community. Investment decisions and business relocations could be discouraged and Virginia’s reputation as the nation’s best state for business could be discredited.


I truly hope the Governor and the Senate will stop holding up the budget over a partisan, political issue; an act that is contrary to Virginia tradition. We should pass a clean budget on time and hold a special session on Medicaid expansion.


This Session we have advanced bipartisan legislation that helps our veterans, our teachers, our children, our roads, and those who are most vulnerable. We owe it to these citizens to pass our budget on time.


Sign the Petition


Virginia’s budget is not a bargaining chip.  Regardless of how you feel about the Affordable Care Act or Medicaid Expansion, holding hostage funding for our schools, teachers, police officers, firefighters and local governments is wrong.  


If you agree with me, please let Governor McAuliffe know.  You can do so by signing this petition asking Governor McAuliffe to pass a clean budget.  



Thank you so much to those of you who have visited us in Richmond, and also to those of you who have called, written, and emailed us over the last few weeks.  We are still in the process of responding to all of our emails, and we appreciate your patience.

As the regular session draws to a close, we will once again be operating out of the district.  You can reach us by phone at 540-448-3999.

Throughout the interim, please be aware that our Richmond office is closed.  Though we try to routinely monitor the voicemails in our Richmond office, we ask that for the quickest response that you please call our district phone number.  

You can also continue to reach us by email at, and by mail at Post Office Box 239, Staunton, Virginia 24402.

As always, thank you for allowing me to serve as your delegate.

Add your reaction Share
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